Never mind. When I typed 'porche' into my search engine it assumed that I was a 'Merican who couldn't spell and, therefore, gave me many listings relating to 'Porsche', a much newer conveyance than a donkey and cart. There were also references to personal blogs, and Facebook pages whereon people thought that they owned and drove 'Porche' automobiles, and they were proud of this and happy. 'Mericans. . . The French know how spell perfectly well.
In fact, this post is an account of my just-finished travels in Spain and France. While there I looked for actual Porsches and I found a few, but none of them were the vintage of my car - they were almost all newer, same as here. I did find a '70's 924, but it was so sad it doesn't count. Mostly, the tiny roads that I took on this trip across and within the Pyrenees were great fun to drive and that might be the central theme of what I will write now. We'll see. I'll just do it, and we'll find out what the subject is later.
There are a lot of French cars that I like very much, but they are not available in North America. Mostly I'm talking about old cars, though, and they were available in NA, but that time has passed. For example, the Citroën 2CV (deux chevaux), or the DS19 Safari station wagon. Old Peugeots were less radical (model 403, as an example; looks like a bar of soap), but were sturdy and, often, peppy in their realm. On this recent trip, we rented a Peugeot 308, and it was quiet, comfortable, nice handling, and peppy, too, considering its 1.6 litre engine. I don't know if we need modern French cars in NA; they wouldn't live up to the éclat of the old ones. Anyway, many of them are diesels and 'Mericans don't like them very much. Too smelly.
The GPS got lost. It's true. It was a Garmin unit, just like at home, even with the same voice. That voice started saying, "Turn left, turn left. Go straight 9.8 km. Recalculating. Turn right, turn right," all of this on a straight 5km long road with no intersections whatever. The thing went berserk, and we never found the slick motorway with its 130 kph speed limit. Instead, 'the voice' (Gertrude, we called her) put us on a road about one-and-one-half cars wide that wound a serpentine route through and across the Pyrenees, just about nicking the corner of Andorra, through tunnels, and no guard rails to be seen. Around here, where I live, if you can find a nicely paved twisty road to enjoy, scooting along in your vintage Porsche, the whole experience takes about fifteen minutes before it's over and you have arrived on a big boring road again.
OK, the road below isn't the road we drove. This road is in Andorra but was just a few kilometres away from where we actually were, so it's similar countryside. However, this Andorran road would have been much easier to drive than the one we experienced. For hour after hour, I'm being accurate here, nothing but totally blind corners, impossible drop-offs, hair-pins constantly, rock walls that made the road too narrow, snow and hail (in May, in the south of France/Spain), and every now and then a truck that needed two lanes and there were only one-and-one-half. I never got beyond third gear. I loved it, and I drove as hard and fast as I could.
On the other hand, my significant other got seasick and took to dangling her head out over the drop-offs, staring into the constant abyss as it droned by. It appeared that she didn't love this ride for some reason; there is no accounting for taste.
In certain ways this trip was peculiar. We began in Spain, went to France, back to Spain again, back to France once more, then finally back to Spain to finish it off. As a result this gives me license to skip around a bit, because that's what we did.
So, earlier, in the tiny hillside town of Eus, France, we trekked slowly on foot up a winding road to see yet another antique church on top of a commanding hillside. Given our pace, we could look at things in detail. I looked into somebody's garage - a little thing connected to a house. This is what I saw.
A genuine Model A, flat-head Ford hot-rod. Who would have thought? But there it was in all its glory. I poked my head in there and a man was inside, puttering around. Bon auto !, or something like that I said and the guy grinned. I held up my camera and he shook his head OK. We had a pigeon-french conversation (doing my best), and here is what I found. Way cool ! I would love to own this car, but it still sits there in France. Why is there that cardboard under the motor? Most often hot rods like this have small-block Chevys in them, or, if they still have the flat-head it will have finned and polished Offenhauser heads on it at least. As you see, this one has the original heads, nicely painted black. Clean and simple. I like clean and simple.
And, unusual for hot rods, too, this beauty had its original wire wheels and skinny tires, front and back. I liked the look and made the owner aware of this in no uncertain terms. He grinned a whole lot more. I don't believe this type of automobile - actually it was a pick-up truck - was ever that common in France, but what do I know. Maybe it just arrived the week before. I don't think so, though, because of the old number plate on the front that looked as if it had been there for a very long time.
Maybe this V-8 hot-rod valiantly still makes its original 65 horsepower and it's all just for show, but then again it might rumble out 100. Some of the most extreme flat-heads were tortured into making 300 horsepower, but they didn't last long doing it. Edsel Ford, who designed these vehicles, didn't have that sort of thing in mind, at least initially. I wonder how this little V-8 would have done on the winding road I mentioned above.
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To be fair, there are many other car names out there, but still there is a cultural gulf involved here that cannot be ignored. I suppose that when you need to use very little gas (in France gas was around $8.25 per U.S. gallon) you don't call your car a Magnum, or Rampage. They just wouldn't sell. Bipper sounds like sipper, which makes more sense, but not in French. Hmmm.
Actually, I probably saw as many Porsche automobiles running around in Europe as I do around here. One day I saw a transport truck full of them, carefully plastic wrapped. Too bad I didn't get to the German Autobahn where these cars truly come alive.
But, I didn't get there. Instead, we had lunch. You have to wait for lunch to be prepared, and so, being generally curious, I inspected the bottom side of my fork. "Made in Italy" it said. The plate was "Made in Austria." I kept looking and found everything that I scrutinized was made somewhere in Europe. Nothing whatsoever was made in China. Now this was interesting. Back home in North America - actually Canada - almost everything is made in China. And I'm not just talking about things I saw in that little café, either.
In our hotel I looked at the bottom side of the furniture, appliances (when we had a kitchenette), bedding, towels, light fixtures, and those little shampoos they give out. Nothing made in China. I was disoriented and confused. It seems as if the Europeans, at least in the portion of the place where we were, keep it all in the family. It might cost more to produce things locally, so to speak, but perhaps they have an interest in preserving their industries, instead of making the greatest possible profit. Then again, it might be a cultural imperative and economics are secondary. I don't know.
It's not the Chinese who are selling atrocious junk in North America, it is the merchandisers here who demand the lowest possible price on everything so that they can make the most money by selling a 4 cent object for $14.95 to keep their shareholders happy as they do it.
What this has to do with Porsche cars, older ones anyway, is bad parts, cheap. Even not so cheap. It's not the fault of the Chinese. They can no doubt make high quality products, too, but they are asked to produce cheap and they are good at it, so we get a lot of crap. Here it's money, money, money. In Europe there is a far greater concern with the quality of life that people lead. You can see this in the pace of many things, in the intrinsic value of many things. What matters is a rich life, not so much rich shareholders.
OK, this diatribe is simplistic and incomplete, but that does not mean that it isn't true. It is so that I found nothing Chinese (except in an actual Chinese store, but that doesn't really figure in) and that everything I examined came from a 'local' source. That means something, and says a lot about another cultural gulf, between Europe, and N.A.
Time out. I have to walk the dog.